Agreement for Commercializing Technology (ACT)
Technology transfer has always been a vital part of the mission of the DOE labs. Now, DOE, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and seven other DOE national labs are piloting a new mechanism for partnering with the commercial sector: the Agreement for Commercializing Technology or ACT. The goal for ACT is to provide a partner-friendly alternative to existing partnering mechanisms, increase private sector engagement with the national labs and increase the transfer of research results to the marketplace. ACT will allow laboratory operating contractors to negotiate contracts that don’t require DOE approval and have business-friendly terms, sharing the risks while still protecting taxpayers and taxpayer investments.
Today we face a serious need to mobilize partnerships between the scientific community and industry to make game-changing advances in science, technology, and industrial processes that will ensure the continued technological leadership of the United States and the rapid transfer of the results of research and development to the marketplace, where jobs are created. Numerous mechanisms have been developed to facilitate laboratory partnerships with universities and private industry [e.g., Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs), nonfederal Work for Others (NF-WFO) contracts, and various user facility agreements]. However a frequently mentioned concern is that partnering with the national labs is just not that easy, in spite of these programs. Businesses and universities want to work with the labs— to access both their expertise and facilities—but have expressed frustration with the whole process: negotiating the agreements is time-consuming, payment requirements don’t match standard business practices, contracts must be negotiated using government-mandated terms and conditions, and DOE must approve all agreements.
The number of partnership agreements each year—720 CRADAs and 2,273 NF-WFO projects in 2011 alone—is a testimony to the value of the national labs resource and the commitment of the labs (and their partners) to technology transfer and industrial partnerships, but undoubtedly opportunities to make even greater technology transfer impacts in the marketplace are being missed. With ACT, ORNL now has another powerful tool for flexible engagement with the commercial sector.
ACT at a Glance
- Contract solely between UT-Battelle and the funding client
- Commercial terms familiar to industry
- UT-Battelle can assume performance and financial risk (and charge an equitable fee for this)
- Intellectual Property rights can be negotiated between UT-Battelle and the client
- Government use license limited to research purposes only
- Speed of execution
- Contractor can submit approval package in preproposal stages to expedite
- Preliminary approval in 3 working days
- Final DOE approval in 10 working days
- Negotiable payment terms